Sometimes I say stuff and think, “Hmm, that sounded pretty good! I wonder if I made that up?” Usually, it was from Andy Stanley or another person smarter than me. But to make sure, I google it. If the author doesn’t pop up, maybe I did come up with it. So, here’s one . . .
No man can gain perspective in the midst of his circumstances.
Your perspective is the way you see something. Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive.” All the definitions of perspective have something to do with looking. David Brooks, in his book The Road to Character, talks about how our perspective changes with age and experience. Younger people see what’s right in front of them, in real-time, while older people pan the camera back and see the bigger picture.
Our perspective is often skewed by our vested interests and our ego. We want to brag about the things we get right and hide those that are going south. I’ve written before about having a ‘plus one’ in your life, which is essential for precisely this reason . . . to help you get or keep perspective on the things you’re doing or thinking about doing.
You’ve heard the idea of getting a fresh set of eyes? Same thing. Someone outside your circumstances walks in, looks around, and sees things you don’t. Sort of like the clutter in your house . . . it’s been there so long you no longer see it. But bring in a stager or someone focused on decluttering and “Boom . . . there it is!”
Counselors help us get perspective. They come into our lives and relationships with fresh eyes and clear ears. They listen to our words and the tone we use as we say them. They watch our body language and help us see what we can’t see.
Consultants do this for organizations. They give leaders perspective on their company’s circumstances by taking an objective look at where an organization really is in its life cycle. And then they usually offer some pretty solid ideas for next steps.
But . . . why is it so hard for us to step outside our circumstances and objectively look back? What keeps us from inviting in a trusted friend or a counselor or a consultant?
Plain and simple.
We don’t want to be wrong. We don’t want people to think we didn’t see it for ourselves. We’re afraid we’re going to have to change. To live, love, or lead differently. Ignorance is bliss . . . if we don’t have the facts, we don’t have to face the facts. And thus, we allow ourselves to settle for the status quo.
As Jesus-followers, we know we don’t own anything. Our life is a stewardship. We steward our bodies, our health, our relationships, our money, and our faith-walk. We steward our churches, whether we work there or attend and serve. But be honest, can we be great stewards without inviting fresh eyes in to help us gain and keep perspective?
Scripture: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)